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Bernard Butler
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Bernard Butler
2011-03-07 16:31
I think that if there's a risk, it obviously would be a concern, but I can tell you that with the lump-sum benefit, there are a number of considerations that I think you should address. First of all, we do offer financial counselling. It's part of the package. If there's an individual who may be at risk, that person is certainly encouraged through our district office staff to seek that financial counselling, to get support if they require help in decision-making. What this bill does, however, is it does afford that individual the opportunity to make a choice, and the choice will be obviously to either accept the full amount as a lump sum or as a combination of a lump sum and a periodic payment, or strictly as an annualized periodic payment over whatever period of time that individual chooses to make.
One of our concerns, and a concern I think the committee should consider, is that there is always a fundamental issue of choice and self-determination, and there seems to be some concern that individuals, because they come back from Afghanistan, may not have the mental wherewithal to make decisions around how they're going to spend their money. This is a concern in the sense that we send troops to Afghanistan, we send troops all around the world, to engage in very difficult actions on behalf of the Government of Canada, and yet the response from some quarters is that, yes, that's great, and you were able to do that, but you're not able to manage some money that you're going to get because you have been injured.
There are very difficult issues in all of this around self-determination, freedom of choice, competency, and capacity to manage decisions around financial spending. From a departmental point of view, yes, we are concerned. We have put processes in place to ensure that for any individual we're working with, if there is an identified risk, they are counselled, they receive the support they need. And, again, the programming does afford that opportunity to pay $500 towards financial counselling to help individuals with decisions around investment strategies or otherwise with their funds.
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